HC Deb 26 November 1942 vol 385 cc845-7
20. Mr. John Dugdale

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is satisfied that Army officers and men are fully conversant with their rights under the scheme of war service grants, in view of the fact that less than 700,000 have applied?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions (Mr. Paling)

I am satisfied that wide publicity has been given to the scheme of War Service Grants, and that no one should be unaware of his rights under the Scheme. The measures taken include repeated broadcasts, press conferences, lectures to welfare officers and troops. There has also been an extensive distribution of posters and leaflets, and a special explanatory slip was inserted in the recent issue of family allowance books, so that the serving man's wife would also know when and how to apply for a grant.

Mr. Dugdale

Will the hon. Gentleman consider consulting the Secretary of State for War with a view to seeing that all platoon commanders may instruct their men on this particular matter?

Mr. Paling

If this would help, I should be quite willing to do it.

21. Captain Sir Ian Fraser

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he is now able to announce that he will raise the rates of pensions and allowances paid to officers, non-commissioned officers and men, disabled in this war and their de pendants, to the comparable rates for great war cases?

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to my reply to his similar Question on 23rd April. There has been no material change in the cost of living figure since the rates of pension applicable to the present war were last increased.

Sir I. Fraser

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since he last increased these pensions by a very small amount, many working men have had a half-crown rise per shift or per day, and does he not think the time has come to give these pensioners a half-crown rise per week?

Sir W. Womersley

The Government made a definite pledge that if the cost-of- living figure rose substantially these pensions would be increased. The figure on which the 1919 pensions were based was 215. At the present moment the figure is [...]00.

Mr. Bellenger

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the anomaly which arises of ex-Service men drawing pensions at a higher rate, as a result of their disability in the last war, than those who are casualties in this war and who do not understand cost-of-living figures, but only understand that they are getting a smaller pension?

Sir W. Womersley

The Government had the right to decrease the old war pensions as and when the cost-of-living decreased. They did not exercise that right, and therefore, it is true that this has given the old pensioners an advantage.

24. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has yet arrived at a decision as to the disregard of the increase in children's allowances when dependants of serving members of the Forces make applications for War Service Grants; if so, what is his decision; whether any reductions have yet taken place in cases where War Service Grants are in operation, since, and owing to the increase of the children's allowances; in how many instances has his Advisory Committee considered the question of raising the unit basis on which grants are made; and is any action intended to be taken on the same?

Mr. Paling

I would ask the hon. Member to await the statement dealing with this and related matters to be made later in the proceedings by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council.